Gambian lawmaker released from month-long “unlawful” detention

Gambian lawmaker released from month-long “unlawful” detention

Gambian parliamentarian Buba Ayi Sanneh (Indpendent – Kombo Central) has been released by the country’s spy agency after he was held for a little over a month, family and security source confirmed.

Sanneh was arrested by the officers from the National Intelligence Agency over a civil case they had no jurisdiction over.

The National Assembly Member was said to have sold a piece of land in Farato that was previously sold to another client by his elder brother. Hon. Sanneh said he was unaware of the sale and had agreed to compensate the last buyer.

Many said Sanneh’s arrest was politically motivated and rights campaigners had demanded for his release, describing his continuous detention as unconstitutional and an abrogation of his liberties.

During his detention, an overnight raid blamed on Gambian authorities on his vehicle saw documents taken from his burgundy Cadillac SUV and leaving the vehicle’s windows shattered.

The NIA reports directly to and acts under the orders of the country’s president, Yahya Jammeh. Though The Gambian law requires citizens to who are held in custody to be charged and brought before a court within 72 hours, the NIA is constitutionally mandated to work within the country’s military decrees passed some 22 years ago, giving it powers to detain people beyond 72 hours without charges.

His colleagues at the National Assembly failed to take steps to secure his rights saying “parliamentarians do not have immunity aside from what said and their conduct during sessions,” but Majority Leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta said he was going to bring up the issue with some of his colleagues.

Sanneh’s arrest came few days after accusing a judge presiding over an assault case against his person of being partial. Magistrate Hillary Abeke refused to stop proceedings for the assault and trespass case against the lawmaker though court documents show the complainant, Musa Gomez has written to and advised the court that he does not wish to continue with the case and wants it withdrawn.

The NIA has not given any reason for his arrest that came days after a radio interview with controversial radio journalist, Pa Nderry Mbai. He is not facing any charges and conditions for his release remain unknown.

Honorable Sanneh is an arch critic of President Yahya Jammeh and has been a strong advocate against his government policies in parliament.

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